Romans 8:33, 34
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies.
He has asked the general question, challenging an answer: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" He now proceeds to two special questions, the first of which has reference to the justification of believers by God. In view of that he asks, "Who shall lay anything to their charge? who shall condemn?" And again, amplifying the fact of their justification, he tells of the death, the resurrection, the ascension, the intercession, of Christ Jesus, as the pledge and declaration of their acquittal. We may consider the possible sources of charge against God's people, and their triumphant vindication.
I. THE CHARGE. To them that are in Christ Jesus there is now no condemnation, and yet whispers of condemnation may again and again be heard.
1. The transgressions of the past may come to mind with such force as to destroy our joy in God. Past irreparable, and though first consciousness of free forgiveness of God may almost blot it from our memory for the time, yet there are times when it seems to live again, and so vividly that we can hardly detach the thought of overwhelming guilt as still upon us.
2. The imperfections of the present. How far from the perfectness of the ideal! And how the very growth of earnestness and increase of endeavour seem to make the ideal more distant still! So conscience, the Law, the adversary, and accusing men (see Beet, in loc.) may make us feel condemned.
II. THE VINDICATION. But the condemnation is not real; it exists only in the diseased imagination. Let it be brought face to face with the great facts of the gospel, and it must vanish quite away. What are these facts?
1. The great central fact is that we are God's chosen ones; and who shall dispute God's choice? Not that he ever can act without reason; but, whether we see the reason or not, we are elect, the elect of God, as being his people, and who shall gainsay it?
2. This great election is declared by his justification of the believer, which has gone abroad in the gospel to all the world: "He that believeth is not condemned."
3. And even the reasons of the election of believers are graciously made known, and graciously confirmed: Christ's death, resurrection, exaltation, and intercession.
(1) The death of Christ, as the great Propitiation for the sins of the world, utterly does away all guilt to those who sincerely receive it by faith. As the Son of God, he thus sets forth the infinite love of a God who laid down his life for our sake; as Son of man, making reconciliation for the sins of the people, he appeals on our behalf even to the infinite justice for our acquittal. And though we may still be frail, and sin may cleave to us, yet, if we are sincere in our faith, that atonement avails for all things and for ever.
(2) The resurrection of Christ, following after the expiation, is God's sure setting-forth of the value of the expiation, and the effectiveness of the finished sacrifice. "Raised for [i.e. because of] our justification" (Romans 4:25).
(3) The exaltation, as the resurrection completed, is the completing of the guarantee that we are accepted in him. And he is our Forerunner.
(4) The intercession, as the work of the exalted High Priest, is the continuous application of the atoning work, in itself for ever finished and for ever guaranteed. For returning prodigals, and for us with our frailties who have believed, he "ever liveth to make intercession," and is therefore "able to save unto the uttermost." Oh, then, whether we look to God who has chosen and justified us, or to him whom God hath set forth as a Propitiation, and again declared to be his Son, well-pleasing and beloved, by the raising from the dead; whether we regard God in Christ as the Source of our salvation, as the Effecter of salvation, or as the Manifester of salvation; whether we think of the past, the present, or the future in Christ; - in any case we can take up the triumphant challenge given us by Paul, "It is God that justifieth; Who is he that shall condemn? It is Christ Jesus," etc. - T.F.L.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.